Clint Bowyer 's loose No. 15 Toyota started a multi-car wreck during the season finale on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway shortly after a restart on Lap 45, forcing the fourth caution of the day. The other cars invovled were the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr ., the No. 33 of Ty Dillon , the No. 55 of David Ragan and the No. 43 of Aric Almirola , who took his Ford to the garage. (Almirola returned to the race 55 laps down.) "We wrecked pretty good," Dale Jr. told his crew after getting clipped by Ragan's Toyota. Before the race's start, the Hendrick Motorsports wheelman was upfront saying he would assist in any way with helping Jeff Gordon attain his fifth title. After a trip down pit road, Earnhardt returned to the race several laps down. The Ford EcoBoost 400 is the final race for Michael Waltrip Racing which fields teams for both Bowyer and Ragan. Bowyer's day ended early and he told NBC from the garage, "I don't know what the hell happened. I was kind of optimistic about the race. We made a pit stop there and the car was just a way big handful there. I don't know, I was coming off of (Turn) 2 there and Ty (Dillon) kind of got squirrely and I tried to stay off of him and my car got loose and I just couldn't catch it. "I don't know, we just lost the handling on our car big-time there. Unfortunately ended -- you hate to end this way. I wanted to end on a strong note for everybody at MWR. Appreciate all of their hard work and efforts all these years but unfortunately it's over.” Here's how those involved ranked on the leaderboard at the race's end: Dillon (23rd), Ragan (27th), Earnhardt Jr. (40th), Almirola (41st) and Bowyer (43rd).
Clint Bowyer makes contact with Ty Dillon, sending him around collecting Dale Earnhardt Jr., causing major damage to the No. 15 and No. 88 cars in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Presenting NASCAR content from around the web Editor's note: On Wednesday at noon ET, "High 5" will present some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. 1. World champs Jeff Gordon 's win at Martinsville wasn't the only big event happening in sports this weekend. The Kansas City Royals won their second World Series title on Sunday, defeating the New York Mets four games to one in the series. Royals manager Ned Yost's connection to Dale Earnhardt and NASCAR has been well-documented over the past year. Here is one example. WE’RE #CROWNED !!! Your Kansas City Royals are WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!! pic.twitter.com/Ic8oL4aWu5 — Royals (@Royals) November 2, 2015 Happy for Ned Yost and the @Royals today. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 2, 2015 But if anyone in NASCAR is SUPER excited about this, it's Kansas-native Clint Bowyer . So excited that he's questioning next-morning commitments. That poor dentist. Been really fun to root for these guys we call our own. All I've seen on my timeline is #takethecrown . How bout #TookTheCrown Let's all — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) November 2, 2015 Gonna go ahead and apologize in advance for my 9am dentist appointment. We took the damn crown for crying out loud. @Royals — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) November 2, 2015 2. Buckeyes, Tigers & the Tide -- oh my! As the Championship Round between the final four drivers at Homestead approaches, another sport is gearing up for its four-team playoff of its own -- College football. The College Football Playoff Committee announced its first rankings of the season on Tuesday night. Making the cut were the Clemson Tigers, LSU Tigers, Ohio State Buckeyes and the Alabama Crimson Tide. 1. Clemson 2. LSU 3. Ohio State 4. Alabama pic.twitter.com/7FtqlrlmSl — CFBPlayoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 4, 2015 The first three teams hold unblemished records this season, while Alabama -- the unexpected pick of the lot -- has one loss against Ole Miss. But just as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has showed us, anything can happen when there are four coveted spots at the line. 3. 3-on-3 Several celebrities hit the court with Austin Dillon for his 3-on-3 Celebrity Baskeball Tournament on Tuesday night at High Point University. NASCAR’s Ty Dillon , Denny Hamlin and Brendan Gaughan , as well as country singer Colt Ford and MMA fighter Rashad Evans, were among the VIP guests who served as captains. He shoots...he scores!! @austindillon3 is king of the court today! -JW pic.twitter.com/HRLFZ3q6sT — Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) November 3, 2015 Coach @dennyhamlin keeps an eye on his team...self-proclaimed the "Bad News Bears"! Ha! -JW pic.twitter.com/UjDVzZ4Km9 — Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) November 3, 2015 The 16-team format resembled the bracket-style system that governs the NCAA basketball playoffs. Austin Dillon 's team, seeded 1 from the start, ultimately prevailed over Gaughan's squad. All proceeds from the night benefitted the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. 4. Gordon's longtime fan He's been with Jeff Gordon since the beginning, watched him grow from a young racer into a championship-winner Cup driver. It's not team owner Rick Hendrick and it's not former crew chief Ray Evernham. Rather, it's Gordon's stepfather John Bickford. "Jeff ran with the bigger kids and the very best that was out there. He had a lot of skills then and it was one of those things that I probably knew that he could keep advancing," Bickford told Popular Speed in a recent article. One thing is for certain: he's hoping for a fifth title for his stepson. "I certainly hope Jeff takes that checkered flag in first place!" Bickford said. "I've never done this. It's been 39 years of continuous focus on this racing. So, I don't know how I'll feel. I guess I'm hoping for a bit of a sense of completion." Click here to read the entire story from Popular Speed. 5. Chase take-aways Sunday's race at Martinsville was highlighted by Gordon's Chase-clinching win and Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano 's ongoing drama, which ultimately resulted in Kenseth's two-race suspension . But the race's wild finish held many other implications for other drivers, especially those contending for a title. FOX Sports 1 breaks down the top five takeaways from Sunday's showdown here.
Clint Bowyer shows off his impressive custom helmet collection to NASCAR Illustrated.
Clint Bowyer makes a hard impact into the wall during the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Clint Bowyer backs into Justin Allagier on pit road during qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway forcing Allgaier’s team to make repairs before his qualifying run.
MORE: Stewart announces that 2016 will be final season in NASCAR's top series KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- Stewart-Haas Racing unveiled Clint Bowyer as Tony Stewart 's successor Wednesday, shedding light on the plan to replace the three-time NASCAR premier-series champion upon his retirement at the end of next season. Bowyer said when it became evident that there was a vacancy at Stewart's No. 14 ride, he didn't hesitate. "They didn't have to call me," Bowyer said with his patented grin. Though the spotlight shone brightest Wednesday on Stewart, one of NASCAR's most popular drivers and a surefire bet for first-ballot induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Bowyer's piece of the puzzle provided an extra source of intrigue for the four-car organization's future. The news also provided Bowyer with an opportune landing place after rocky recent weeks with his current team, Michael Waltrip Racing . "I don't think I got fired; it just went away, and somehow you landed in a way better situation," Bowyer said to laughter in Wednesday's news conference at HaasF1's sprawling new headquarters. "Do you ever hear that term when you fall in a pile of cow manure and come out smelling like roses? That's exactly what this is for me." Bowyer's timetable for inheriting the No. 14 Chevrolet ride in 2017 includes a one-year gap in his driving duties. He shied away from giving specifics regarding his 2016 plans, despite speculation he would shift to the two-car HScott Motorsports outfit for a one-year stint in the interim. Bowyer hinted that next season's part of the equation could become clearer by this weekend at Dover International Speedway . "Yeah, there's going to be some more announcements later in the week as far as where we're going for next year," Bowyer said. "But for this announcement, why I'm here today is to announce the long‑term future plan for me." Stewart initially joked that his handpicked selection for the No. 14 Chevy was retired driver "Handsome" Harry Gant, the 75-year-old veteran whose last season in NASCAR was 1994. Besides a tongue-in-cheek comment about Gant's and Bowyer's common thread with "immaculate hair," Stewart applauded the team's newest driver, saying that his hero and friend -- racing legend A.J. Foyt -- would approve of the hire. "You know, everything in racing is timing, and the opportunity to get somebody like Clint Bowyer , I mean, that's when you know you seize the opportunity. We're probably going to have a hard time working together and communicating with each other. We probably won't have any fun racing," Stewart said with trademark sarcasm. "It's the right time, it's the right opportunity, and when somebody in a scenario like Clint's this year came about, you jump on those opportunities, and you know that timing is everything." In a compelling contrast, the details for Bowyer's future emerged as the fate of his campaign in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs simultaneously faced a crossroads just six miles away, where Michael Waltrip Racing was appealing P4-grade penalties against Bowyer's No. 15 team at the NASCAR Research & Development Center. RELATED: MWR penalty upheld in appeal Bowyer qualified for this year's Chase on the basis of his rank in the Sprint Cup driver standings, but the team opened with a thud in the Chicagoland opener. Penalties stemming from a pre-race infraction for improper track-bar and suspension mountings essentially negated the team's 19th-place finish, digging a large deficit in the opening three-race Challenger Round. The 25-point penalty was upheld Wednesday by a three-member panel, keeping Bowyer last in the 16-driver postseason field with bleak odds of advancing from the Chase's opening round this weekend at Dover International Speedway . The appeal is another tipping point in Bowyer's final days with MWR. The team announced Aug. 19 that it would shut its doors at the end of the season, granting Bowyer his release and freeing him to seek employment elsewhere. That freedom resulted in landing nicely on his feet, claiming what he called "one of the best rides ever in the history of the sport." "I mean, this is a champion's seat that I'm filling, so that being said, this is an unbelievable opportunity," Bowyer said. "Just like I said earlier, to think of that door opening, and holy cow, the timing couldn't have been any better for myself. Just somebody was looking after me." Bowyer has eight victories in NASCAR's premier series -- five with Richard Childress Racing , where he drove from 2006-2011, and three with Michael Waltrip Racing (2012-2015), all coming in his first year with the team. Bowyer's 2012 campaign remains his most successful with a second-place result in the final Sprint Cup standings. But besides the performance and accomplishments, Bowyer also brings an affable, cooperative element to the mix of personnel and personalities at Stewart-Haas. Though Bowyer said Wednesday that he would miss racing against Stewart -- his future boss, but also his friend -- he also looked forward to building chemistry in the next stage of his stock-car racing career. "That being said, damn, I'm glad that you decided to retire and open this seat up for me," Bowyer said to Stewart, "but you know, it's just all about people, it's all about culture for me, and I think the fit factor couldn't be any better."
OFFICIAL NASCAR RELEASE: Chase team among four penalized RELATED: Busch, Suarez issued penalties NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer now finds himself right back where he started -- 16th among a field of 16 drivers battling for this year's NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. There is one difference. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver will be without the services of his crew chief, Billy Scott, for the next three races. On Wednesday, NASCAR officials announced that Bowyer's No. 15 Toyota team had been penalized for a P4 level infraction found during opening day inspection last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway . RELATED: See the updated Chase standings As a result, Bowyer has lost 25 driver points, team co-owner Rob Kauffman has been docked 25 owner points, Scott has been fined $75,000 and suspended for three races. He has also been placed on probation for six months. Based on rules cited in the penalty announcement, the team was penalized for suspension and track bar issues. Those noted included: 20.14c -- All suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension and/or drivetrain component beyond normal rotation or suspension and/or drivetrain travel; 220.127.116.11.k -- Beveled washers and/or other components that allow movement under load will not be permitted on the track bar heim joints or rod end and/or track bar mounting bolts; 18.104.22.168.1.d -- Approved parts that are not properly installed or are made adjustable when not normally intended to be; 22.214.171.124.1.f -- Components, devices, systems, configurations, installations, etc. which serve to circumvent NASCAR templates, gauges, measuring devices whether intended or not … Because Bowyer is competing in the Chase, and the result of any appeal would have an impact on the championship standings going forward, NASCAR's penalty statement stated that a request had been submitted to the Appeals Administrator of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel seeking to expedite any appeal. Michael Waltrip Racing officials issued a statement shortly after Wednesday's penalty announcement. " Michael Waltrip Racing respectfully disagrees with today's penalties and plans to immediately appeal," the statement read. "MWR has made mistakes in the past, but we feel we are correct in this instance. We look forward to the opportunity to present our case to the appeals committee and have no further comment until the process is completed." Bowyer , competing in the Chase for the sixth time in his career, was seeded 16th in the field heading into last weekend's race in Chicago. He finished 19th and improved one position, to 15th, prior to the points deduction, earning 25 points. Regardless of the appeals process, Bowyer must win one of the next two Sprint Cup races -- scheduled for New Hampshire and Dover -- or be one of the top 12 in points following the Dover race to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase. MWR fields two teams in the Sprint Cup Series, the No. 15 of Bowyer as well as the No. 55 with driver David Ragan . Team owners announced earlier this year that Bowyer had been granted his release following the '15 season and that the organization would not field full-time teams beyond this year. RELATED: MWR begins process of shutting down Earlier this year, the No. 31 team of Richard Childress Racing was hit with a Level P5 penalty for infractions involving the release of air pressure from the team's tires. In addition to the penalty for the No. 15 team, NASCAR officials also penalized the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team with driver Danica Patrick for modifying the right-side quarterpanel during pre-qualifying inspection. Crew chief Daniel Knost and car chief Pete White have been placed on probation through Dec. 31 for the Level P2 infraction.
RELATED: Chase-clinching scenarios for Richmond RICHMOND, Va. – NASCAR's most eligible free agent Clint Bowyer was all smiles and chuckles Friday morning while meeting with the NASCAR media before opening practice for Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway . "It's that time of the year right? It's fun times, a cool race track," Bowyer said. "From the first time I ever came here I remember making laps around here thinking, 'Man, this is a perfect size race track.' It's always raced well and I've always had a lot of fun as we're making laps around here. "Couldn't think of a better place to come to try to seal the deal and get ourselves into this Chase. It's something that I'm very proud of having a shot at being a part of it and looking forward to the races after that." The perennially ebullient Bowyer has maintained a brave face and optimistic outlook despite having an uncertain future – both in the near and long-term. His Chase berth and championship quest is unique among the title contenders. He is simultaneously hoping to mount a championship run while looking for a new job. Bowyer's first priority is making the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Saturday night's race will settle the postseason grid, and he holds the most tenuous position -- the 16th and final spot with a 29-point edge over 17th place Aric Almirola . Beyond this weekend, Bowyer needs to find a new team as his Michael Waltrip Racing organization granted his release for 2016 and announced it would not be fielding Sprint Cup cars beyond this season. And to Bowyer's credit, his phone has been ringing. RELATED: Bowyer says future 'uncertain' after MWR news "It's humbling the people that have reached out and been interested in me, but truth be told man, look what we're in the middle of," Bowyer said. "Timing is good that it's ahead and not the end of the year that you're finding this out, but nonetheless it's pretty crunching times right here and it's like I told them, 'I don't want to use the word 'back burner,' but let's just take a timeout right here for a couple weeks and take care of business.' That's kind of what we did this week." Bowyer joked that he expects a minimum of "27 different scenarios and not one less" as the rumor mill hits full speed predicting where he will wind up next year. However, in the meantime, Bowyer's commitment and focus remains on the quest for the Sprint Cup , something he nearly won in 2012 when he finished second to Brad Keselowski . He insists keeping that focus is easier then you'd think. "The racer in you – that's what I love about this sport – the competitive racing nature of it just prevails," he said. "Obviously people have families to provide for and a future to worry about but they're doing so. ... They're working on their futures and that's exactly what I intended for them and hoped that they would do. All the while still digging as hard as they can and getting our cars where they need to be to compete for a championship." Bowyer said there was never a formal discussion or sit-down meeting with his No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team. But he did take the initiative to speak with them informally as a group and remind them their performance and efforts right now have never been more important to their careers. A Chase berth and postseason success could mean all the difference. "I said, 'Listen, our futures together are uncertain, mine included, but the one thing I can say is if we come together here and work our butts off we can be a part of this Chase together and that's only going to build all of our brands so we can go out and be best we can be and get the best opportunity for someone to hire us.' " There is precedent for a happy ending. Carl Edwards qualified for and finished ninth in the Chase with Roush Fenway Racing last year -- despite announcing in July he was leaving the team. Even more dramatically, crew chief Darian Grubb led Tony Stewart to five wins in the 10 Chase races en route to the 2011 championship despite the two agreeing to part ways before the Chase schedule began. That's the kid of motivational example Bowyer is counting on for his team, too. "At that point it's going to go one of two ways," Bowyer said of receiving the initial news about the MWR split. "Everyone was so tense and under so much pressure all season long, so it was like, 'Listen guys, let's hit the re-set button, focus on the task at hand and go get this for all of us. "You've got to end that worry and say something to get that turned around so everyone can have confidence and that momentum. It charged them up and certainly our results in the last month and a half have shown that."
RELATED: Full Richmond results RICHMOND, Va. -- There were no last-second heroics, no pit-road gambles or stunning strategy in an effort to beat the odds. For Jamie McMurray , Ryan Newman , Jeff Gordon , Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard , points positions proved crucial. And in the end, proved to be enough. The group collected the final five positions in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup by failing to fail, running well enough to earn the final berths in this year's 16-team field. "It was still stressful, because we had that last restart," Gordon, a four-time champion making his final Chase appearance, said after bringing his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet home seventh in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway . "It was nice not to have to really be sweating it." Gordon needed a finish of 17th or better to clinch. "I know this guy's happy," Gordon said as team owner Rick Hendrick eased up behind his driver to give him a congratulatory hug. "He was sweating it a little bit like the rest of us were. So that feels good to make him happy. This team, they deserve it." Hendrick, who has seen Gordon evolve from a promising young talent into one of the most successful competitors in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, provided a news flash: "Let me be the first to tell you," he said, "he's going to drive another year. He's not doing good enough, so he's got to go one more." Hendrick was kidding. Sort of. GALLERY: 2015 Chase drivers celebrate at Richmond McMurray locked in his first career Chase spot by simply taking the green flag to start the 400-lap event on the .75-mile track. Although he started 31st in the 43-car field, by night's end McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) had raced his way up to 13th. "I'm super relieved," McMurray said. "I've been the guy on the outside trying to fight my way in, and I've also been in this a couple of times and been knocked out at Richmond." Like McMurray, Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ) will be making his first Chase appearance when the 10-race playoff begins next week at Chicagoland Speedway . The excitement of qualifying was tempered a bit by a difficult night on the race track -- Menard finished 26th, three laps down to race winner Matt Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ). "We had a fast car, it just burned the left-front tire off after like 30, 40 laps and we started going backwards," said Menard. "Try to figure out what happened there." His No. 27 team wasn't the only one to have issues with the left front, he said. But others had no similar problems. "Some guys," he said, "obviously figured it out. "We've had a lot of good runs this year; obviously this wasn't one of them." Bowyer's Chase appearance will be his final showing with Michael Waltrip Racing -- the two-car organization will cease to exist after the '15 season. "I hate to say this but it's actually nice to go into the Chase the way we are; the pressure is off," Bowyer said. "Hell, we were trying to make the Chase, that's big, that's monumental for our organization and our team. "Let's just go have fun, let's get everything we can out of every single weekend and see what happens. Literally, the pressure is off until somehow, some way you're in the thing (for) two rounds or three rounds then all of a sudden the pressure kicks back up. But that's the neat thing about being in our situation, being part of this Chase. Right now, in the next three or four weeks, there is no pressure." Bowyer's status as a Chase participant was the most tenuous -- a slip could have opened the door for someone else to bolt past. His 10th-place finish proved more than enough to accomplish what was required. RELATED: Bowyer wants to end MWR run on a high note "At the beginning we weren't real great," crew chief Billy Scott admitted. "We had to work hard on it. Just stayed calm, it was a long race. After that we just kind of found a place and ran our race. "We were keeping an eye on guys that hadn't won and were running up front, where the guys were that we were racing in points and felt pretty comfortable with getting in on either side of that. "There was no need to gamble. We just ran a pretty conservative race and brought it home in one piece."